Research Description

Dissertation Overview

I seek to understand how racial/ethnic conflict shapes and is shaped by political institutions. In my view, the historical approach powerfully illuminates how racial/ethnic hierarchies and political institutions coevolve. I use newly collected and existing historical data and rigorous empirical strategies to advance literatures across race and ethnic politics, American political development, historical political economy, and political violence. Substantively, my work integrates insights from studies of political behavior and political institutions culminating in the following overarching contribution: racial conflict catalyzes the creation of repressive political institutions, but crises allow for the state to also facillitate inclusion.

My dissertation introduces and advances this research agenda through two primary themes. First, I explore the ways in which racial conflict shapes the formation of repressive political institutions using the case of policing. Second, I flip this relationship and ask whether the state has any role to play in the incorporation of marginalized groups paying close attention to the role of the military. These two themes suggest that the state’s more coercive institutions such as the police and military can either maintain or break racial/ethnic hierarchies depending on the existence of internal or external threats to power.

The final chapter of the dissertation introduces my secondary research agenda on racial and ethnic conflict from the “bottom-up” by focusing on the role of social movements in giving marginalized groups voice in repressive societies. This chapter is published in the American Journal of Political Science (AJPS). Though historical in its approach, my research has serious implications for questions of contemporary relevance such as whether the state can or should get involved in racial conflict and if marginalized groups can overcome these conflicts.

See below for more detail about my publications and ongoing research.


  1. Mazumder, Soumyajit. 2018. “The Persistent Effect of the US Civil Rights Movement on Political Attitudes.” American Journal of Political Science 62(4): 922-935.
  2. Mazumder, Soumyajit. 2017. “Autocracies and the International Sources of Cooperation.” Journal of Peace Research 54(3): 412-426
  3. Mazumder, Soumyajit. 2016. “Can I Stay a BIT Longer? The Effect of Bilateral Investment Treaties on Political Survival.” The Review of International Organizations 11(4): 477-521.

Under Review

  1. Mazumder, Soumyajit. 2019. “Becoming White: How Military Service Turned Immigrants into Americans.”
  2. Mazumder, Soumyajit. 2019. “No Nation Left Behind? Assessing the Impact of Compulsory Schooling Laws on Immigrant Assimilation.”
  3. Fouka, Vasiliki, Soumyajit Mazumder, and Marco Tabellini. 2019. “From Immigrants to Americans: Race, Status, and Assimilation during the First Great Migration.”
  4. Mazumder, Soumyajit. 2019. “Black Lives Matter for Whites’ Racial Prejudice: Assessing the Role of Social Movements in Shaping Racial Attitudes in the United States”

Working Papers

  1. Mazumder, Soumyajit. 2019. “A Brief Moment in the Sun: Politics, Race, Punishment, and the Rise of the Proto-Carceral State.”
  2. Feigenbaum, James, Soumyajit Mazumder, and Cory Smith. 2018. “The Economic Origins and Legacies of Racial Repression: Evidence from a Historical Natural Experiment in the U.S. South.”
  3. Jacob Brown, Ryan Enos, James Feigenbaum, and Soumyajit Mazumder. 2018. “Early Life Racial Exposure and the Long-Term Causes of Partisanship: Evidence from Linked Census and Voter File Data.”
  4. James Feigenbaum, Soumyajit Mazumder, and Cory Smith. 2019. “When Coercive Economies Fail: The Political Economy of the US South After the Boll Weevil.”

Selected Works In-Progress

These are projects for which I have results and am in the process of writing up.

  1. A New Statistical Portrait of Political Repression in the United States
  2. Is There a Naturalization-Incorporation Nexus? Regression Kink Evidence from the Age of Mass Migration
  3. Changing Ingroup Boundaries: The Effect of Immigration on Race Relations in the US (with Vasiliki Fouka and Marco Tabellini)
    • Presented at ASREC 2019 and scheduled to present at the Penn Conflict and Identity Conference
  4. Black Lives Matter in the Courtroom (with Allison Harris and Ariel White)
    • Presented at APSA 2018
  5. Ignoring Ignorability: Problems and Solutions for Instrumental Variables Designs (with Stephen Chaudoin and Sascha Riaz)
  6. Just Estimands
    • Presented at PolMeth 2019